tv Eyewitness News Upclose ABC October 18, 2015 11:00am-11:30am EDT
>> this is "eyewitness news upclose with diana williams." >> we all recognize that smoking is socially unacceptable compared to where it was 10 years ago. that didn't just happen. >> he was health commissioner of new york city for nearly five years, and was at the center of some of the biggest public-policy battles in new york city history, including a proposed ban on large sugary sodas, the ban on trans fats in restaurants, and an aggressive and successful campaign to reduce cigarette smoking. now dr. thomas farley revealing the behind-the-scene battles under the bloomberg administration to try to get new yorkers healthier. good morning, everyone. i'm bill ritter, in for diana williams. we're gonna talk to dr. farley in a moment, but before we do, and as a prelude, the first-ever report on health of new yorkers by zip codes.
this big revelation -- your health and your life-span have a lot to do with the neighborhood where you live. move over, income inequality. make room, as well, for health inequality. here's "eyewitness news" reporter stacey sager. >> with nearly 40% of the residents here living below the poverty level, it's not terribly surprising that new york city's health department ranks brownsville the most unhealthy community in brooklyn. question is, will the city's new study make a difference? >> all of this is something that we can change. >> but talk to people in this community and you get one message loud and clear -- we are what we eat, and healthier food is expensive. >> i just spent $400, and i don't even see on what. >> $400? >> yes. >> in these two wagons? >> that's it. >> my sugar is going through the roof, and my blood pressure's going through the roof. if you go into stores, most of their food is processed. >> there are many other factors the city looked at, everything from air quality to the
accessibility of good healthcare. and in brownsville, for example, new hiv diagnoses are more than double the overall rates for brooklyn and the city. and hospitalization for substance abuse, also more than double the brooklyn and citywide rates. >> bad health is as contagious as a cold. you could independently be healthy as an individual, but if you are living in an unhealthy environment, your health status will decrease just as the individuals who are around you. >> bottom line, life expectancy is less -- 11 years less -- in this part of brooklyn than it is in the financial district of manhattan, for example, which is ranked best. still, ask brownsville's lester mcqueen, age 72, and he says attitude is everything. they say the average life expectancy is about 74 here. >> well, i'ma tell you the truth. i want to get 100. >> you're gonna beat the odds. >> i want to. [ laughs ]
in brooklyn, you can go to our story on abc7ny and find out how healthy your community is. the rest of the city's 59 communities will be posted online by the middle of next month. in brooklyn, i'm stacey sager, channel 7 "eyewitness news." >> attitude may be everything, but broccoli helps, as well. our guest this morning, dr. thomas farley, currently the president and c.e.o. of a group called the -- nonprofit called public good projects, which is trying to change health behaviors nationwide. he is also, by chance, the author of a new book called "saving gotham: a billionaire mayor, activist doctor, and the fight for 8 million lives." dr. farley joins us now. that's quite a catchy title. >> thank you. >> it sounds like -- not quite a dan brown novel, but it does have a little intrigue in your book. you have behind-the-scenes battles, and i guess, for public policy, this is a kind of a tell-all book. >> yeah, well, you know, it's a story about how a billionaire and a group of activist doctors approached health in a different way other than medical care.
at a time when medical costs are skyrocketing and we're all really suffering under those costs, i think that there's a different way to approach health which is cheaper and better, and i think people need to know about that. and they can learn about that just by reading the story. >> and yet, if you look at -- you heard stacey's story, stacey sager's story, and she talked about how healthy food is more expensive, and people in poor areas can't afford that, so they're drawn -- and markets make this very easily available, going right down the center aisles -- inexpensive, processed foods full of fats and sugars. >> yeah, absolutely. i mean, the whole public-health approach says "let's make healthy choices easier." the world around us has an impact on our behavior and on our health, and if we change that world around us in a way to make healthy choices easier, we'll all be healthier, and then we might not need those medical-care costs. it's a different approach from a medical approach, which -- you know, when i'm sick, i want to go to a doctor, too, but that's costing us an awful lot of money, and a public-health approach is just a more cost-effective way to be >> much more preventative. there's no question about that. prevention. >> but there is this question of healthier foods are more
expensive, and -- so, this thing that i did say at the beginning of the segment, we heard about income inequality, but there's also health inequality, and the two are completely linked. >> absolutely. there are big differences in income, and no question that where there's more differences in income, there are bigger differences in health, and the overall health of the population is worse. >> so, these findings by your former health department does not surprise you. >> doesn't surprise me at all. and i think that focusing on things like healthy-food access makes all the sense in the world. i think that man put his finger right on it, that what he's mostly got available to him is processed food, and processed food is not good for you in many different ways. >> so, for a lot of people, awareness is the first and most important step. and then once you have that -- that guy clearly had it, when he said, "it's just processed foods in the stores i go to" -- how do you really get healthy food available to everybody? >> well, it's difficult, because the food system is complicated. there's many different channels to it. but there are areas where the government can intervene. and, you know, we try to take on just some early battles about
making healthier choices easier in the bloomberg administration. we got pushback from companies who didn't like that. but that was an approach to try to get at creating a healthier food environment. >> 12 years of the bloomberg administration, and you were there for nearly 5 of them. it's been 15 years since mike bloomberg was first elected. how would you assess the health of new york city 15 years after bloomberg started? >> well, there were huge strides in health during the bloomberg administration. before my predecessor, tom frieden, came in to the position as health commissioner, smoking rates in the city were 21% for a decade. since that time, the smoking rates fell by 25%. heart disease mortality rates fell 40%, and life expectancy at birth rose 3.2 years. all those numbers were substantially better than what happened in the u.s. as a whole. we still have some big problems, as you saw in that segment, but there's no question that we saw big strides during that time. >> and smoking -- cutting down on smoking rates was a big factor in increasing the life expectancy. >> well, i can't say for sure, but i certainly can say that smoking rates fell fast, and that we would predict that that
would have an impact on life expectancy, and that our life expectancy did improve. and smoking was what tom frieden, when he came in, said it was gonna be his number-one priority. he was gonna put his greatest focus on that, and he succeeded in bringing the rates down. >> but it wasn't just tom frieden, it wasn't just tom farley. it was also mike bloomberg. and he got the rap even though you guys were the forces behind it, the public-policy activist doctors. he got the rap as being, you know, "the nanny mayor." was that fair? >> absolutely not. you know, during the 4.5 years that i was health commissioner, not a single person came up to me and said, "please put secondhand smoke back in my restaurants," or, "please put trans fat back in my food." when we created a healthy environment, people liked it. and, so, there was always controversy, and there always will be controversy around new rules. but in the end, people liked having a healthier environment, having healthy choices be easier. >> but, you know, when the smoking bill ban that was first proposed, some of the restaurateurs were up in arms, saying, "you're gonna kill our business. this is gonna be terribly harmful."
but when it went into place, in fact, their sales didn't go down. in many cases their sales went up. and afterwards, many of the critics said, "yeah, you're right. this was a good idea." and prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants changed everything around smoking. it changed the social acceptability of smoking. it used to be that, in a place like this, someone would light up a cigarette and no one would say anything. now it's socially unacceptable, and that's really changed the way that everybody -- reduces the likelihood that anybody would smoke. >> i will say, i read parts of your book, and the writing was >> thank you. >> for a doctor especially, you know, whose handwriting is pretty bad, your writing -- well, writing on a computer -- it was really like a little novel, a behind-the-scenes investigative piece with a little -- some novella parts to it, including some interesting behind-the-scenes battles. really, like a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like for a mayor who wanted to improve the health of new york and who ran into a lot of opposition. you had to have taken notes, because some of the ways you describe people -- the way they look and what they were wearing and what their manners were...
you had to have taken notes. >> well, i took some notes at the time, and i interviewed an awful lot of people for the book, and some of those meetings, i was there. and so i did have an insider's view about all of this. and i tried very hard to write it as a story so people would read it as story just because they want to find out what happened behind those headlines. but by the end of the book, they'll understand some of these public-health concepts, ways to approach health other than through medical care. because i think we need to do much more of that. >> you didn't pull a lot of punches, either. i was completely fascinated by one of the meetings you had with the heads of pepsi and coca-cola when you were proposing the ban on large sugary drinks. >> right. >> and they did more than imply, they said they were about to contribute a lot of money to the economic health of new york as a state. and then, when you continued with the ban proposal, they were quite upset. they viewed that as some sort of betrayal, because they were gonna now withdraw their commitment to funding something. >> yeah, you know, the portion cap was designed to make it easier for people to have smaller portions. it was really just a moderation
proposal. but the soda companies hated it. that meant that fewer people would be mindlessly drinking a quart or a gallon of sugary drinks. and they tried very much to arrange some sort of negotiated settlement with us. and so we had discussions with them. we'll talk to anybody. but at the end, nothing that they promised looked like it was gonna be as effective and as verifiable. and so they said, you know, "well, in that case, we're gonna take these donations we might've given to new york city, and we're gonna send it somewhere else." and sure enough, later on, a bunch of money appeared in chicago, and they withdrew their portion-cap proposal. >> was that something of a bribe? a legal bribe, maybe? that's how it appeared in your book, i would say. >> i wouldn't describe it as a bribe. i would say, you know, that companies donate money to all sorts of people to get, you know, some friendly treatment. but this is something that mike bloomberg wasn't gonna do. in the end -- >> as a businessman he wasn't gonna do it, and as a politician he wasn't gonna do it. >> yeah. as an elected leader who cared about the health of the people of new york, he said, "what is the way that we can deal with this obesity epidemic, save the most lives?" and he was convinced that the portion cap was gonna do that, and so he was gonna stick with it.
>> what i found fascinating, doctor, was not so -- was equally the public policy on health questions and issues you raise, but you gave a real behind-the-scenes, you know, "peel back the onion" look at how business is done, how business is attempted to be done in a big city like new york. >> yeah, well, this was new to me. you know, i was a professor before i became commissioner of health to be sort of behind the scenes, in the corridors where big, important decisions were made. and i think people need to understand that this is sort of the battleground on which health is fought these days. >> mm-hmm. >> you know, people, when they think about the battles over health, they're thinking over obamacare. but, really, the battles over health today are battles with the tobacco industry, or battles with the soda companies. those are the things that have the greatest impact on our health over the long term. >> just a few seconds left. tell me what you're doing now. your group is called public good projects. what is that? >> it's a new nonprofit organization of people with expertise in mass media and in marketing who want to use the power of the airwaves, of the mass media, to try to change the trajectory of health in this country. so, people here are probably familiar with the anti-smoking ads we had on television and on
the subways. >> some of them very dramatic. >> some of them very dramatic, some of them very tough. those worked. and i can demonstrate that those worked. we think we ought to be using those tools at a national level for a variety of health problems. if we do that, people will be healthier, and we won't have to be spending so much money for medical care. >> the activist doctor still being an activist doctor. tom farley, former commissioner of health in the city of new york. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> all right. thanks, tom. when we come back, a push for major bail reform that could keep fewer people behind bars. we're gonna take a closer look at that issue -- and it's complicated -- next. join the millions who have already switched. we switched. and now, we're streaming netflix. who knew time warner cable's
mom switched. and now, we can watch our favorite shows together, on demand. i switched. so i can connect to the internet just about anywhere with my free twc wifi hotspots. join the millions who switched to time warner cable. for $89.99 a month, you'll get 100meg internet, and hundreds of hd channels. you'll also get unlimited calling across the u.s. and 34 other countries around the world. call today. i switched. now i have a free app that lets me watch tv whenever i have the time. for $89.99 a month you'll get tv, internet and phone. and if you call now, there's no risk, no contract, no catch, no kidding. i switched to time warner cable and knew exactly when they were coming. thanks to their one hour appointment window. switch to time warner cable today. and ask how you could get a $300 reward card.
it's called the bail lab. the city will partner with courts to test some alternatives to bail that involves money. 50,000 people are sent to jail every year because they can't afford to make bail. among the changes, streamlining the current credit-card bail-authorization form and better coordinating the bus schedule from courthouses to rikers island to give defendants more time to post the bail. all very complicated. all too many people know about these problems too intimately. there's also a push in new york state to change the bail system statewide. joining us this morning is state senator michael gianaris, a democrat from queens who has just introduced this new legislation. us. >> thank you. >> so, tell me what this bill is all about. >> well, it's important to remember where bail has come from. my bill would actually eliminate bail in new york state. we'd be the first state in the nation to do away with it entirely. and when you look at the history of bail and where it's come from, one realizes that we don't really need it anymore. it doesn't serve the purpose that it's intended to.
>> which was, originally, to make sure people get their behinds into court when they're scheduled to. >> right, exactly. in other words, you could pay for your freedom, or you could sit in jail and wait if you don't have the money to do it. >> and to most people who've never had any problem with the criminal-justice system, that sounds like a reasonable thing. why is it a problem? >> well, because there are plenty of poor people in our city and in our state who can't make even a bail that most of us might consider reasonable, and then they end up wallowing in jail for months, some cases years at time when they haven't even had their day in court, haven't been convicted of anything. some of these low-level offenses, misdemeanors and violations, people spend more time in jail waiting for trial than they would be sentenced to even if they were found guilty and convicted after a trial date. so, it's become a means to imprison poor people. those who have means can pay the bail and they're free to re-enter society. it's become a gross inequality within the criminal-justice system. >> and we're not talking about murderers, we're not talking about armed bank robbers. we are talking about people like half the people in prison right now -- nonviolent crimes who
just languor in jail because they can't afford the bail. >> that's exactly right. and what i would propose is let's do away with bail entirely. for the most serious crimes, the murderers, or the accused murderers, et cetera, let's allow judges, as they can today, remand those people to jail pending trial without any bail requirement. for misdemeanors or less, let's have a presumption that those people should be released on their own recognizance and be trusted to come back, because they're nonviolent offenses for the most part. and then, for the felonies that are in between, we propose something that's been tried in other jurisdictions, worked very effectively, something known as a conditional-release program, where you're released but there's conditions attached to it. so, you have to check in with an court date. if you have a job or go to school, you have to continue to do that. if you have a residence, you have to continue to live at that residence or notify the officer if you're moving. so, that way, people get to keep tabs on the people while they're back. and where it's been done, it's been shown that the rate of return for trial is just about the same as with bail. >> 'cause if someone wants to leave, they're gonna leave
whether they have aunt betty's house up for mortgage or not, right? >> that's exactly right. and you've seen with bail, you have about a 20% rate of people not returning. in the supervised-release scenario, you have about a 22%. so it's roughly the same. within the margin of errors, as we would call it. and you would save a tremendous amount of money for the state and for the local counties by doing this, because it costs $60,000 a year to keep someone in jail for a year. and what you see is taking that off the table. even if you hire a few people to work in a supervised-release office, you're saving over $1 billion a year around the state, is what governments are paying to keep people in jail pre-trial according to the process. >> we'll get to more on the cost in a second. but it seems to me also that one of the problems with people not making bail for minor offenses is that it might encourage them to plead guilty to something even if they're not guilty just to get out. >> that's a great point. that happens a lot. because, as i just mentioned, when you're charged with these low-level crimes, oftentimes the penalty, even if you're convicted, is either no jail time or very little jail time. and you imagine, if you're faced with the choice, you could spend
a year or more in jail waiting for your trial date, at which you'll be sentenced to less than a year in jail, if at all, or you could just plead guilty and walk out that day. and so there's a tremendous incentive for people to plead guilty. it gives them records. it gives them a harder time finding employment or finding places to live, and it ruins lives. in many cases -- the kalief browder case is the one that's received the most attention. the charges were dismissed against this young man. he spent three years in jail. his life was so miserable, and all sorts of awful abuses happened to him while at rikers that he ended up taking his own life. and that's an extreme example, but things like that happen all the time. >> and the silver lining of that is that, thankfully, his death may not be in vain, because it's leading to big changes at rikers. >> that's right, that's right. and hopefully big changes to the bail system, as well. >> there are some people who say, "okay, this is fine, senator, but, you know, the fundamental flaw here isn't bail, it's the criminal-justice system and how we meet out justice. and that doesn't deal with that. >> right, well, bail is part of it, right? bail is a part of our criminal-justice system that's left over from the middle ages in england. and i don't think people
realize. it's just been something we've had for so long, people assume there's some kind of rational justification for it. bail was around at a time when people's idea of criminal justice was burning people at the stake. and it was intended to deal with cases when the resolution of those cases would often involve a financial penalty, not the denial of freedom. so, if your penalty for committing a crime was $1,000, they'd say, "great, put that $1,000 up now so we can make sure, if you're found guilty, you have the money." that's where bail originated from. >> yeah. >> it's evolved over time, and it's stuck around to the point where now it's just a way to make sure that poor people stay in jail pending trial because they can't afford it. >> it's a sentence in and of itself. >> exactly. >> it's very interesting that so many people from so many political quarters and different philosophies are calling for prison reform. you mentioned $60,000 to house a prisoner in new york state. that's four years of a suny education, including room and board. we have 2.2 million prisoners in this country. that's more than any other country in the world. 1.4 million in china is the next.
about rehabilitation. that's now changing. >> yeah, and we hope that it changes in a dramatic way. you're talking about the bigger issue of mass incarceration. the bail process certainly contributes to that. but we're spending more time -- not only are we spending more time and money keeping people imprisoned, but we're sacrificing the opportunity to make them contributors to society. as you just mentioned, we could invest that money in making them productive citizens instead of locking them away and just creating a prison industrial complex. >> chances of this passing the state senate? >> it's a work in progress. we have to educate our colleagues, and i think it's something that, as the senate hopefully changes in the short term -- those of us who are on the democratic side would like to see that -- it's something i think will gain more traction. >> well, one spark, as they say, can start a prairie fire. senator michael gianaris, thank you for joining us this morning. good luck to you. >> just ahead, the democratic candidates squared off last week in their first debate. so, how did they do? how did hillary clinton do? how did bernie sanders do? and bill de blasio, is he really making up with
that's next. that sound. like nails on a chalkboard. but listen to this: (family talking) that's a different kind of sound. the sound of the weekend. unleash the power of dough. give it a pop. it's always worth remembering... that icing the cinnamon rolls is a privilege not a right. unleash the power of dough.
>> welcome back. the five democratic candidates for president squaring off in their first debate last tuesday. but the focus, of course, was on the top-two candidates in the polls, hillary clinton and bernie sanders. >> the american people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. >> thank you. me too. me too. [ laughs ] [ cheers and applause ] i never took a position on keystone until i took a position on keystone. but i have been on the forefront of dealing with climate change, starting in 2009 when president obama and i crashed a meeting with the chinese and got them to sign up to the first international agreement to combat climate change that
so i'm not taking a back seat to anybody on my values, my principles, and the results that i get. >> the headline, i think, is that she crashed a meeting with the chinese. joining us to talk about the debate and all things political, our mighty political duo, jeanne zaino, professor of political science at iona college, and hank sheinkopf, a professor of political consulting -- democrats more than republicans. welcome, both of you. are you talked out about this debate, or do you have some more in you? >> we've always got more in us, right, hank? >> speak for yourself. [ both laugh ] >> are you talked out about the debate? >> i'm debated out. you know why? because i can't -- the whole thing is "hillary won" or "bernie lost." that's not what's going on here. this is not about winning or losing a debate. it's about positioning, and bernie sanders really one-upped her by getting the e-mail thing in and making himself out to be the policy guy, which no one's paying attention to. >> so you think -- you're not gonna say who won or who lost. i'm not gonna ask you that. but what's the positioning here? >> bernie positioned himself to continue, and she positioned herself to continue. that's what happened. the other guys are dead.
she could've boxed him out. didn't happen. he boxed her out. he's still there. he's still on the left, and he's still dominating on the left. >> he took the high road. do you think he foxed her out? >> no, i don't think he foxed her out, necessarily, but i think he held his own, and i think that's important. and i think, as much as the focus has been on the e-mail-exchange issue that you just played, the fact is is that the e-mail issue is not gonna come into play, the benghazi hearing is not gonna matter, unless the fbi finds something and she ends up indicted or something like that. beyond that, the e-mail issue doesn't really matter. it certainly has never mattered to democratic voters. >> and no one is suggesting that she's gonna be indicted except maybe a few people at fox news. that's about it. >> yeah. so, obviously, that doesn't look like it's something that's gonna happen. beyond that, the e-mail doesn't really matter. the benghazi hearings next week don't really matter when you're talking about the presidential race at this point. >> they only matter if the findings are significantly negative and if the conduct is significantly negative and it impacts her in a way that reduces the confidence the public has in her even further, which would create a pathway for
joe biden to get in. >> right. so is he not gonna get in? he was sort of the elijah in the room at that debate. is he not gonna get in until after the benghazi -- he'll make a decision after benghazi? >> it's logical not to, number one. number two, he is truly a democrat. therefore, if he believes that she is so damaged as a function of benghazi and the congressional hearings that she cannot win the white house, watch him jump in. >> but she didn't appear like that. she did not appear to be a candidate who was down in the polls, right? >> no, no, she came out very strong. i think she did what she needed have done. she was the most well-prepared one there, obviously the most experienced, and as hank mentioned, the other three completely out of the race. but i think joe biden can wait even longer than the committee hearings. he can wait. and if she implodes, as hank mentioned, if something happens, they find something about these e-mails, he can enter the race, even if it's after iowa and new hampshire, quite frankly. so i think he sits in this waiting pattern and sees what happens. >> a reasonable observation, by the way. >> i want to talk about de blasio and bloomberg but briefly. three other candidates in the democratic debate.
a lot of other candidates on the republican side. not doing raising money, not doing well in the polls. how long do they stay in this process? >> it starts to winnow out pretty quickly. i mean, webb has no money, i presume. o'malley doesn't know what he' there for. and lincoln chafee -- well, he needs to go back home. on the republican side, money's starting to dry up for an awful lot of people. the only guy that doesn't need money is donald trump, not because he has money, because he's not using money, but he's become the public-relations spectacle. it's working very well for him. >> i watched much of the debate, jeanne, watching donald trump tweet out. he was so vitriolic, so hateful, so dismissive of the democrats. and that's all he did. he said, "i'm not even watching it anymore. i'm just gonna tweet nasty things." >> yeah, it was just a dumb debate, according to donald trump. but, you know, listen -- i do think, on the republican side, the next person to exit is probably gonna be rand paul. he's got a lot of issues at home. he doesn't have the money. i think he's gonna have a very tough time staying in this race, and he's one of several that should be getting out soon. >> i'm sorry to give this short shrift. we have less than a minute, about 40 seconds. de blasio making nice with michael bloomberg, talking about how he did all these nice things, about the health in
new york city, expanding the seventh line, all this. what do you make of that? >> i think he should have done it a long time ago, because i think he did have accomplishments, michael bloomberg, and that the mayor should have recognized them a long time ago. so i'm happy he's recognizing them. >> michael bloomberg is one of the great mayors of new york history, and bill de blasio's worried about 2017. you know what? he's trying to put that coalition back together again. attacking mike bloomberg only takes up part of it. >> why did he wait so long? that's really the question a lot of people are asking. he should've done it earlier, as you have suggested for a long time. all right, jeanne zaino and hank sheinkopf. i almost said jeanne sheinkopf. >> very nice. >> thank you, bill. >> making news here on "upclose." >> very nice. >> and that'll do it for this edition of "upclose." if you missed any of today's program, you can catch it again on our website. that's abc7ny. thank you all for watching. i'm bill ritter, in for diana williams. and for all of us here at